Diabetic Eye Diseases: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020, reports that 34.2 million Americans have diabetes and 88 million American adults have pre-diabetes.
The most alarming data? The CDC also states that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Let’s dive into the causes, symptoms and treatment of diabetic eye disease.
PreventBlindness.org explains diabetes-related retinopathy (DR) as a disease that damages the blood vessels of the eye, causing them to leak and bleed into the retina. Individuals may not experience symptoms in the early stages of DR, which is why it is important for individuals with diabetes to have an eye exam annually, or as directed by their doctor.
Patients with diabetes-related retinopathy (DR) often observe these symptoms:
- Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
- Blurred vision.
- Fluctuating vision.
- Dark or empty areas in your vision.
- Vision loss.
Macular edema usually develops along with diabetic retinopathy if diabetes-related retinopathy is left untreated. Fluid can leak and cause swelling in the fovea, the center of the macula where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. This results in blurred vision and can ultimately lead to vision loss.
Diabetic Eye Diseases Symptoms of macular edema include:
- Blurred vision
- Objects look wavy
- Objects look like they are different sizes when looking out of one eye or the other
- Eye redness
- Sensitivity to light
If you are diabetic and experiencing these symptoms, schedule your consultation today with Dr. Russ. Early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way toward protecting your eyesight.
Another diabetes-related disease is cataracts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a
cataract as the clouding of the normally clear lens in your eye. Though everyone’s lenses tend to get cloudy as they get older, people with diabetes are more likely to have cataracts, and at a younger age. One reason is that high blood sugar can cause deposits to build up in the lenses and make them cloudy.
Patients with cataracts often observe these symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Dulled, discolored vision
- Double vision
- Difficulty reading, especially without substantial lighting
- Eye pain
- Constant changes in eye prescription
- Sensitivity to glares
- Seeing halos around lights
- Trouble seeing/driving at night
Surgery is the only way to treat cataracts however surgery is very safe, and most people experience better vision afterwards. Maintaining the best eye care health is Dr. Russ Van Norman’s number one priority with all of his patients.
Glaucoma occurs with damage to the optic nerve and possible loss of side vision, usually caused by an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop open-angle glaucoma, the most common type.
The CDC also finds that diabetes can also cause neovascular glaucoma. This happens sometimes with diabetic retinopathy when new and abnormal blood vessels grow on the iris (the colored part of the eye). The new vessels can block off the flow of fluid out of the eye, which raises eye pressure.
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma include:
- Spotty and blurred vision, typically in both eyes
- Tunnel vision
There isn’t a way to prevent glaucoma, but treatment can help stop it from getting worse. Catching glaucoma early is so important. Treatment options include medication, laser treatment, and surgery. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Russ to discuss what choices are best for you.
DR. RUSS AND THE SHREVEPORT EYE SPECIALISTS TEAM CAN HELP YOU CHOOSE THE BEST OPTION FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TO CATARACT SURGERY. GIVE US A CALL TODAY TO SCHEDULE YOUR CONSULTATION: 318-703-5655.
Dr. Russ Van Norman and Team,
Shreveport Eye Specialists